Moving Beyond Silicon Valley Software Companies


We need a new financing model to build new, better companies

Two decades into a software career, I’m still moved by its potential to improve people’s lives through connection, automation, and access to information, yet I’m less convinced than ever that our financial systems are built to get the most out of it.

This is the first post in a series I’ll be writing on the structural problems in venture capital. These problems aren’t a condemnation of the industry, they’re an attempt to outline where the industry fails the market. This failure helps to explain people’s experiences, but I think also helps to outline the opportunity and need for other ways of funding companies. These ways will also have flaws — they’ll likely not be great at building unicorns — but they’ll be finding people and markets ignored by the current environment.

Like the general financial industry, the world of venture capital has become adept at using money to create more money, but it does not consider of the wisdom of its actions. It chooses easy answers, thus leaving harder but better questions unexplored, and accepts high collateral damage to the employees, customers, and industry that at best is painful and at worst is pure exploitation.

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Mid Day Take: What I Read Today


Money Quote, Issue 1. Possibly a regular column. Or not.

My morning news reading is starting to stretch throughout the day. So here’s what I found worth reading before my day got started. May it help you be more efficient in your daily media consumption.

Read this. It really nails Zuck, and we’re going to be living with this guy for, well, pretty much the rest of our lives. Money quote: “Throughout the interview, he seems irritated that his actions could be viewed as anything other than expansive benevolence.”

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Tech Is Public Enemy #1. So Now What?


If tech wants to reverse the crushing tide of negative public opinion, it must start creating public good commensurate with its extraction of private profit.

If the technology industry were in fact a singular entity — if GAFA, or FANG, or whatever the acronym we identify with the world’s most valuable and profitable companies was in fact one huge corporation, the head of public relations for that fictional conglomerate would be hiding under his desk, likely curled in a fetal position around a sizeable bottle of gin.

The tech backlash is here, and it’s pissed off, it’s complex, and it’s dug in for a long, ugly fight.

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Who Will Get Amazon’s Rose?


It’s “The Bachelor, City Edition.” Plus: WTF? JP Morgan Wins the “Doing Good” Title?!

Amazon yesterday announced it’s looking for a second home, and cities across the continent began preening for the Seattle-based tech oligarch. The Everything Store laid out its requirements: A “North American” metropolitan area with at least one million souls, a quality higher education system, proximity to transportation and an international airport, “a stable and business-friendly environment” — whatever that means — and tax incentives, because, well, you don’t get what you don’t ask for.

Initial bids are due in mid-October, which gives Mayors and Chambers of Commerce across the land a month or so to shine their shoes, slick back their hair, and don their Sunday best. Businessweek, Axios, and the New York Times have already created short lists: The Times favors Atlanta, Raleigh, Nashville, Richmond, Kansas City and Jacksonville. Axios: Denver, Chicago, Phoenix, Minneapolis and Detroit. And Businessweek? Atlanta, Chicago, Toronto, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Austin, Memphis, LA, and Detroit.

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What Uber Founders Didn’t Know in 2009


Photo by Gustavo Belemmi on Unsplash

As Uber appoints its new CEO, Expedia’s Dara Khosrowshahi, it’s the right time to reminisce about the early days of the company, as a mental exercise for imagining where it could go next.

What don’t you know when you found a start-up? A lot. When people look at leviathans like Google, Facebook or Uber today, they often see the negative impact of their dominant market positions. They forget that these firms started small, and, in Uber’s case, with bad PowerPoint. Garrett Camp, the other founder of Uber, released the firm’s seed round pitch deck from 2009.

It’s a must read if you care about startups.

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The Dizzying Potential of Quantum Computing


“After On” Audio Series: Episode 5 of 8

In-depth with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson

Quantum computing is the wild card in technology’s deck

I recently recorded a wide-ranging conversation with venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson on the weird, even spooky topic of quantum computing. Steve is a long-serving board member at D-Wave Systems — the world’s oldest and largest quantum computing company. He and I go back a ways. We overlapped as undergrads at Stanford, then worked together in our first post-college jobs at Bain & Company. Our paths have crossed and re-crossed ever since, in and around the tech scene.

To access our interview at your leisure, either:

  1. Type “After On” into your podcast app’s search field, or . . .
  2. Click the “play” button at the top of this page.
  3. Click here, then click the blue “View on iTunes” button in the upper left corner of the page (requires iTunes, of course),
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Your Internal Culture Is Your Brand.


The Google anti-diversity manifesto story is just one example of a powerful shift in what it means to be a brand.

So you took some time during the weekend to process the whole Google Anti-Diversity Manifesto scandal.

Just in case you virtuously stayed offline: an anonymous Google employee wrote a 10-page argument against the company’s efforts to improve diversity. It leaked and predictably got a lot of attention. You can read the whole thing here. But the core argument (warning, sexism ahead): there are fewer women in technical and leadership roles partly because of innate ‘biological’ differences between men and women. The author says that Google’s diversity initiatives ignore this core truth. In consequence they are ‘unfair, divisive and bad for business.’

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How (and Why) to Avoid Hiring That Terrible Google Dudebro


Everyone agrees the rant author is a scoundrel. The real question is: how can you avoid having his type in your startup? There are ways.

Sexism is a big tent. It includes sexual harassment like overt unwanted contact, inappropriate comments, sexual advances, and withholding promotions for unreturned affection; it also includes gender-based bias — far more common and far more difficult to label and identify. Each of these two extremes deserve significant attention from companies, but this article is devoted to the latter. Gender-based bias, or ‘Dude-bro’ism’ is a culture of bias that proliferates in tech. Like all outbreaks, prevention is cheaper and easier than treatment within work environments and corporate culture. Prevention begins at the first job interview, but also requires steady maintenance to keep away. This is a guide for prevention.

Tell me about the strong women in your life…

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A New Podcast of Unhurried Interviews with Thinkers, Founders & Scientists


The “After On” Podcast

Launching Now . . .

Your correspondent’s Titan-Class Podcasting Contraption

I’ve been previewing my new podcast in the “members only” section of Medium for the past three weeks. Its goal is to bring listeners from a passing familiarity of a subject to a top-percentile understanding of it in the course of a single episode featuring a deep interview with a relevant expert.

Each episode is accompanied by an article that contextualizes and introduces it. The first of those articles was made available to Medium non-members and members alike. Its companion audiocast surveys the current state of augmented reality, and features a long interview with the CEO of AR pioneer Meta. While the article has been available to anyone, the audio was initially only available to paying Medium members.

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